Thursday, February 25, 2010

PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 released!

Phoronix announced today that they have released the first major update to the Phoronix Test Suite's Live CD/DVD. The new version is PTS Desktop Live 2010.1, codenamed "Anzhofen". It is based on Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 and integrates the Phoronix Test Suite 2.4.1 in a live CD or USB stick.

This release includes files for 43 of the nearly 130 tests, so you can do some testing even without an internet connection. If you have internet access, you can download and run additional tests. PTS Desktop Live 2010.1 also includes integration with Phoronix Global (an online benchmark publishing site) and Phoromatic (remote benchmark administration). Documentation for the PTS Desktop Live project is available here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ClamAV Live CD project renamed to OpenDiagnostics Live!

Brandon Perry, maintainer of the ClamAV LiveCD project, recently announced some updates to the project via his Volatile Minds Blog. The most notable change is a change to the name of the project, from ClamAV Live CD to OpenDiagnostics Live CD. While the ClamAV virus removal program still can be found on the disk, a great amount of additional utilities have been added, necessitating a change in name, since this is much more than a virus scanner.

Amongst the included programs:
The list of notable apps is here.

The project really crams a lot of utilities into a small download. I recommend adding this to your toolbox, either on a CD or USB stick (it will fit on a 512 meg USB stick if you use the Ubuntu USB Startup disk creator). Download the most recent version here, or visit the project page here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Linux Journal Article: Using the Reconstructor Web UI has recently published another of my articles. It is concerning the Reconstructor Web UI.
I encourage you to see the article here.

In the meantime, here is a video from Youtube from another person using Reconstructor:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

G-Speak: gesture based computing

Oblong Industries has an amazing video about g-speak, their gesture-based computing technology. You may know gesture technology best as the technology used in the Movie "Minority Report". One of the reasons for the similarities is that one of Oblong's founders served as a science advisor to the film, and the movie scenes were based on earlier versions of his work.
I would love to have this tech in my house.
This video really needs to be seen to be believed:

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Open Source Infographic

I'm a sucker for a well-crafted infographic, and I recently saw an excellent one.

It's from, and it provides a great deal of facts about open source throughout the world. The infographic refers to open source applications in the tech world, as well as open source concepts employed in other fields.

The image is posted below. Click on the image for the full version from
Open Source

Monday, February 15, 2010

Moblin + Maemo = Meego?

Nokia and Intel have just announced a mobile collaboration project called Meego. This appears to be an open source merger between Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo projects. It will be hosted by the Linux Foundation at . It looks like the project will leverage the Qt toolkit and support both Atom and ARM CPU architectures. I'm not sure what this means for Moblin or Maemo (and devices like the N900), but if the resulting project is open source and maintains a steady rate of innovation, I am in favor of this change.

Meego already has a FAQ page for the curious. The Meego Wiki is currently very sparse, but may eventually be a good source of info. For the developers out there, there is a developers page, complete with a tutorial on how to make a basic Meego app.

Nokia and Intel execs talking about Meego:

The technical steering group discussing the project:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Deluge WEB UI error after accepting EBOX certificate

Recently, I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on my home server in order to take advantage of the automated administration features of EBOX with the Web UI of Deluge. After setting both of them up from the repositories, they both worked. When testing out the two services, I noticed that if I visited the ebox administration page before visiting the Deluge Web UI in the same browser, my browser showed this error:

File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/wsgiserver/", line 628, in communicate
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/wsgiserver/", line 361, in respond
response = self.wsgi_app(self.environ, self.start_response)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 315, in wsgifunc
result = internalerror()
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/", line 399, in deluge_debugerror
web.ctx.output = djangoerror()
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/", line 386, in djangoerror
return t(exception_type, exception_value, frames, exception_message, version_info, tback_txt)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 498, in __call__
return f.go()
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 760, in go
self.output._str = ''.join(map(self.h, self.parsetree))
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 552, in h
return getattr(self, 'h_' + item[WHAT])(item)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 684, in h_line
o = self.h(x[NAME])
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 552, in h
return getattr(self, 'h_' + item[WHAT])(item)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 609, in h_call
args = [self.h(x) for x in i[ARGS]]
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 552, in h
return getattr(self, 'h_' + item[WHAT])(item)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 620, in h_expr
item = self.h(i[THING])
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 552, in h
return getattr(self, 'h_' + item[WHAT])(item)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 611, in h_call
return call(*args, **kw)
File "/var/lib/python-support/python2.6/deluge/ui/webui/lib/webpy022/", line 146, in cookies
cookie.load(ctx.env.get('HTTP_COOKIE', ''))
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/", line 625, in load
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/", line 656, in __ParseString
self.__set(K, rval, cval)
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/", line 578, in __set
M.set(key, real_value, coded_value)
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/", line 455, in set
raise CookieError("Illegal key value: %s" % key)
CookieError: Illegal key value: EBox::Auth_EBox
This seemed like a strange error, but I figured out a couple different ways to get around this issue. One way is to access your Deluge Web UI through a service such as DYNDNS, meaning that EBOX would be reached through https:// and Deluge through http://:.
Another option would be to access these services through separate browsers, to avoid the Cookie/Certificate issue that is happening here.

I'm currently attempting to attempt to EBOX 1.4 by adding the EBOX PPA:
(deb hardy main)
I'll let you know if this resolves any issues.

Pandora updates! Cases ready for action, and OS news!

The Pandora console project is an exciting project that has been victim to the occasional delay, but the last couple weeks have been a source of some exciting news.

The last part to require approval is the case. Regarding the case, mass production has been given the green light, but Chinese New Year holidays have shut down the factory for the next two weeks. The good news is that case production will begin when the Chinese New Year celebrations have completed. Happy year of the Tiger, everyone.

The great thing about open development is that you know everything that's going on. The worst thing about open development is that you know everything that's going on. I choose to focus on the positive, as whining and complaining doesn't really help the developers much.

During the delay, the team has chosen to focus on OS development. The official status page has posted an update (as of Feb. 15th) of the current OS status. Things are still a little rough on the edges, but it appears that the project will have a solid base to work from when the first Pandoras arrive to consumers.

Here is the post:

Keep in mind that this is the CURRENT state. A lot of things will be fixed before you receive your Pandora.



What does it mean?


WiFi does work, but speed is slow due to not finished SDIO implementation yet

You can use WiFi at the moment, but the speed will be low. DJWillis is currently hacking to get proper SDIO working.


OpenGL ES: Works fine, but the X version runs very slow. RAW FB version runs fast.

To play OpenGL ES games or emulators in proper speed, you need to quit X for the moment. Not a serious issue.


Bluetooth: Working fine, proper GUI needs to be implemented yet

You can use the command line to set it up. DJWillis is working on a proper GUI.


Keyboard: Keymappings need to be finished, some keys are not yet mapped correctly

This will be done until first release. Nothing major to do, should only need a few hours.


Touchscreen: Working fine in X. Non-X version has inverted axis.

Apps running in non-X mode will have no usable touchscreen driver at the moment. Should be a quick fix.


ALSA is working fine. Sound working nicely.

Sound is working fine.


Battery is included as standard power information in the kernel.

Just has been added, simply need to test if this works with standard Linux Battery Monitor in XFCE4.


pmenu: Included and works fine.

You can select it as default GUI instead of XFCE4 or Ubuntu Netbook-Launcher.


netbook-launcher: First testing version working fine, needs to be implemented as default third GUI

All left to do is to update the bootup script to include the netbook-launcher. Takes a couple of minutes.


xfce4: Basic system runs, many optimizations can be done

You can properly run and work with XFCE4, the default desktop GUI. Expect many tweaks from the community when it is released, i.e. Pandora specific applets, themes, etc.


You can easily switch between the launchers.

Fully implemented. A switch from xfce4 to pmenu does take about 3 seconds, yay!


Auto-Discovery of PND files works great and without any known issues. Running apps in No-X mode has some permission issues.

To install games, all you need to do is copy the .PND file onto the SD Card and it appears in the menu of every GUI.
The No-X mode needs to be fixed, it only works if you run the app as root, so there are some permission issues. Should't be too hard.


Scripts for low-power mode, backlight off when you close the unit and opening a quick menu haven been coded. However, they have not yet been fully mapped.

At the moment, you need to run those scripts from the command line. Mapping them to some keys shouldn't take too long.


Standard USB-Drivers, SD Card Driver including Automount working fine. Remounting not always working when you remove and reinsert an SD Card without properly unmounting it.

You can use USB sticks, USB Joysticks, etc. and of course SD Cards without any problems.
Just remember to unmount it before removing or it might lead to issues.


Boot time is pretty long at the moment. Remember we're booting up a fully fledged Linux system, not just some simple non-X mini-GUI.

There can be done a lot to increas the bootup time in the future, but we don't know if they make it into the first release.
You can always switch low-power mode which should last at least a week on battery power if you don't want to reboot everytime.
Some devs are also thinking about doing a minimal-gaming OS which will bootup in about 5 seconds. The possibilities are there - just don't expect them from Day 1.


Battery charging does work fine, however, as it is the case with most devices nowadays, the Pandora needs to be switched on to charge (it will automatically switch on once you connect it to the AC). Of course, if it is already switched on, it will stay on. You can connect and remove the AC anytime without having to reboot the running system.

No problem here, however, we plan on implementing a mini-kernel which just does the charging and light up the LED. Once this is implemented, the normal user won't notice the device is switched on. Until that is done, the system will simply do a normal bootup. Not really a serious issue ;)


The complete OS is English at the moment. Also the keymap does not yet support international characters.

It's not yet possible typing characters like ö, ä or ü. As each country needs different special characters, we decided to keep the international version (English) at the moment. It shouldn't be too hard to remap things so you can use the special characters you need, some discussions at the boards once the Pandora is delivered will surely help you out.


MPlayer: X version doesn't run too well yet (stutters and the menu is behind the video windows)

Switching to fullscreen makes movie playing a bit better. pmenu has a better working version included, so in worst case you have to switch to pmenu for the moment to watch movies.


Music Player: Currently XMMS is being used. As it does not feature a flexible GUI, it doesn't implement too nice on 800x480

You can listen to music without any problems. You have playlists, can run it in the background, etc. It just could LOOK better. This will be fixed once we switch to a different player.


Help files not included. AbiWord crashes when you try to open Help files.

As the NAND is limited, we couldn't include any help files. Usually, you get a file not found error. Only AbiWord seems to crash.


Most other apps (Midori,ClawsMail, xChat, Pidgin, etc.) are working fine. Some apps are not optimized for 800x480 usage, so their windows are larger than the visible area.

Everything nicely working. For some apps you need to move the windows around to see all buttons, but this is mostly only the case for their settings dialogues. AbiWord, Midori, ClawsMail, Pidgin, xChat, etc. work fine in that resolution.

So, to sum it up:
You can expect an almost fully working system. You can easily play games by simply copying them on the SD card and inserting it.
You have three different GUIs you can use. For demanding apps (or apps that need a fast OpenGL ES), you need to quit X for the moment. The system will do that automatically for you, but that does mean that all other running apps are being terminated at the moment (but hey, who wants to read eMails while playing stuff like Quake 3?)

Most will work, it is just a bit rough around the edges. But that will be fixed in future firmware upgrades. I'm sure a lot of devs who get a Pandora will also start to work to make things better, so expect a LOT of stuff happening just after release.


Also, here is some more media of note.

Mockup of the Pandora AppStore (name TBD):

Here is a Revision5 board that is labeled by the function of each chip on the board:

Atari ST emulation from Skeezix:

EvilDragon informs us about choosing between different GUIs.

EvilDragon shows us the Amiga Emulator:

LCD Comparison (including the Pandora LCD) again from EvilDragon:

Virtualbox releases version 3.1.4!

This just in: VirtualBox just announced a maintenance release of their popular virtualization software. On the list of changes:

As always, check the changelog for the complete list of changes. I continue to be pleased by the high quality of this project.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Getting EBOX 1.4 (Ubuntu Server) to work with a VIA C3 CPU

Recently, I decided to change my home NAS from FreeBSD (FreeNAS) to a Linux-based solution. The hardware that I am running is a modified Chilibox from the now defunct Chili Systems. Under the hood is a Via EPIA PD10000 Mini-ITX motherboard with a VIA C3 EDEN class CPU running at 1 GHz. This is a very power efficient setup- perfect for an always-on home server. However, after attempting to install EBOX 1.4 as (well as Ubuntu Server 8.04.4, on which EBOX is based) led me to an interesting boot error:
" Starting up . . .
This kernel requires the following features not present on the CPU:
0:6 0:8
Unable to boot - please use a kernel appropriate for your CPU. "

Looking for information about this issue brings up the following bug report with status "Won't fix":

So, the system is installed, but the kernel won't boot. Is the machine useless?? NO!
In fact, the only thing you need to fix the situation is already in your possession- the rescue mode of your install disc.

Fix instructions:

  • Install EBOX 1.4 (or Ubuntu Server) as normal.
  • Get to the point where the disc ejects and the computer asks you to reboot. At this point, you can either reboot without the disc to verify that the problem still exists or leave the install disc in the drive.
  • Allow the live cd menu to come up, and choose "Rescue a broken system".
  • Respond to all of the prompts (setting up the keyboard, etc.)
  • The system will ask you for your root partition. Select it and then you should get a root shell prompt at the bottom of the screen
  • You need to install the "linux-generic" kernel to get the system working again. Type apt-get install linux-generic .
  • Reboot the machine, and you should have now got past the wrong CPU message and finish the setup process.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Phoronix releases Phoronix Test Suite 2.4!

The fine people over at Phoronix have recently announced the release of version 2.4 of the Phoronix Test Suite.

Among the new features:
  • New Operating System support -- PTS 2.4 now has enhanced compatibilty for OSes such as Palm WebOS, OpenSolaris FreeBSD 8.0, OpenBSD, NetBSD, as well as initial OS support for Windows 7. Imagine running the same benchmark on your Palm Pre, OpenBSD server, and Win 7 home machine!
  • Actual image quality comparisons -- PTS 2.4 is introducing tests that provide tools for examining rendered images on a pixel by pixel basis to look for rendering or artifacting differences. Initial tests are available for Nexuiz and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, though they are looking to expand support in future versions.
Another announcement that was made is regarding the Live DVD project of the Phoronix Test Suite, called PTS Desktop Live. It appears that a new version of the Live DVD will be coming this month, followed by the first release of a testing suite specifically designed for netbooks, called PTS Netbook Live. They're still light on the details for PTS Netbook Live, but keep your eyes peeled as developments continue.

Multi-Touch coming to Google's Chrome OS?

It looks like Chrome OS development is starting to get interesting. Recently, this UI video and multiple UI concept pictures were released onto the Chromium dev site:

It looks like we're going to see a lot more of these types of features in Google's arsenal now that Google's relationship with Apple has gone sour, seeing them starting to compete directly in several categories, such as the Iphone versus the Droid and Nexus One. I am looking forward to the competition in the tablet category- it is a category that could use some user interface improvements.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

VGA Boot Codes- Help with live CD/DVD video resolutions

If you ever find yourself in with a live CD or DVD that doesn't default to the correct video mode, here is a handy cheat sheet of video modes to put into the boot parameters. For example, if you wish to have a 1024X768 resolution with 16 bit color, type vga=791 in addition to the regular boot parameters.


VGA Resolution and Color Depth reference Chart:

8 bitvga=771vga=773
16 bitvga=788vga=791
24 bitvga=789vga=792

Monday, February 1, 2010

Android running on the Pandora!

This just in- cpasjuste is working on a port of Android to the Pandora console. Here is a video to show the progress so far:

Hackable ARM-based systems are going to be the playground for hackers and innovators in these next couple years. It is amazing to see a small device that is capable of so much!